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World Biofuel Day

World Biofuel Day is observed every year on 10th August to create awareness about the importance of non-fossil fuels as an alternative to conventional fossil fuels and to highlight the various efforts made by the Government in the biofuel sector.

This day also honors the research experiments by Sir Rudolf Diesel who ran an engine with peanut oil in the year 1893. His research experiment had predicted that vegetable oil is going to replace fossil fuels in the next century to fuel different mechanical engines.

The World Biofuel Day is being observed by the Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas since 2015.

Biofuels

Biofuels are environment friendly fuels and their utilization would address global concerns about containment of carbon emissions. Biofuels are derived from renewable bio-mass resources and, therefore, provide a strategic advantage to promote sustainable development and to supplement conventional energy sources in meeting the rapidly increasing requirements for transportation fuels associated with high economic growth, as well as in meeting the energy needs of India’s vast rural population.

Biofuels have the benefits of reducing import dependency on crude oil, cleaner environment, additional income to farmers and employment generation in rural areas.  The biofuels programme is also in synergy with the Government of India initiatives for Make in India, Swachh Bharat and enhancing farmers’ income.

Important Biofuel categories in India

  1. Bioethanol : Ethanol produced from biomass such as sugar containing materials, like sugarcane, sugar beet, sweet sorghum etc.; starch containing materials such as corn, cassava, rotten potatoes, algae etc.; and, cellulosic materials such as bagasse, wood waste, agricultural and forestry residues or other renewable resources like industrial waste;
  2. Biodiesel : a methyl or ethyl ester of fatty acids produced from non-edible vegetable oils, acid oil, used cooking oil or animal fat and bio-oil;
  3. Advanced biofuels : Fuels which are
    • produced from lignocellulosic feedstocks (i.e. agricultural and forestry residues, e.g. rice & wheat straw/corn cob s & stover/bagasse, woody biomass), non-food crops (i.e. grasses, algae), or industrial waste and residue streams
    • having low CO2 emission or high GHG reduction and do not compete with food crops for land use. Fuels such as Second Generation (2G) Ethanol, Drop-in fuels, algae based 3G biofuels, bio-CNG, bio-methanol, Di Methyl Ether (DME) derived from bio-methanol, bio-hydrogen, drop in fuels with MSW as the source / feedstock material will qualify as "Advanced Biofuels".
  4. Drop-in fuels : Any liquid fuel produced from Biomass, agri-residues, wastes such as Municipal Solid Wastes (MSW), Plastic wastes, Industrial wastes etc . which meets the Indian standards for MS, HSD and Jet fuel, in pure or blended form, for its subsequent utilization in vehicles without any modifications in the engine systems and can utilize existing petroleum distribution system.
  5. Bio-CNG : Purified form of bio-Gas whose composition & energy potential is similar to that of fossil based natural gas and is produced from agricultural residues, animal dung, food waste, MSW and Sewage water.

Biofuel use in India 

Biofuels have the benefits of reduction of import dependence, cleaner environment, additional income to farmers and employment generation.

In India, the same cooking oil is used for repeated frying which adversely affects the health due to formation of polar compounds during frying. These polar compounds are associated with diseases such as hypertension, atherosclerosis, Alzheimer’s disease, liver diseases among others. UCO is either not discarded at all or disposed off in an environmentally hazardous manner choking drains and sewerage systems.

The National Policy on Biofuels, released by the Government of India in 2018, envisages production of biofuel from UCO. Food Safety and Standards Authority of India (FSSAI) is implementing a strategy to divert UCO from the food value chain and curb current illegal usage. The benefits of transformation of UCO will help bring health benefits as there would be no recycling of the UCO, employment generation, infrastructural investment in rural areas & cleaner environment with reduced carbon footprint.

At present, approximately 850 crore litres of High Speed Diesel (HSD) is consumed on a monthly basis in India. The National Policy on Biofuels - 2018 envisages a target of 5% blending of Biodiesel in HSD by 2030. In order to achieve the blending target, 500 crore litres of Biodiesel is required in a year. In India, approximately, 22.7 MMTPA (2700 crore litres) of Cooking Oil is used out of which 1.2 MMTPA (140 Crore) UCO can be collected from Bulk Consumers such as hotels, restaurants, canteens, etc. for conversion, which will give approximately 110 crore litres of Biodiesel in one year. Presently there is no established collection chain for UCO. Thus, there is a huge opportunity in production of biodiesel from UCO.

Initiatives taken by government for Biofuel promotion

The Government of India has taken a number of initiatives to increase blending of biofuels. The major interventions include administrative price mechanism for ethanol, simplifying the procurement procedures of OMCs, amending the provisions of Industries (Development & Regulation) Act, 1951 and enabling lignocellulosic route for ethanol procurement.

These interventions of the Government of India have shown positive results. An increase in India’s ethanol capacity from 1.53% during Ethanol Supply Year 2013-14 to 7.93% at ongoing ESY 2020-21 has been reported. Ethanol supply has increased to 322 crore litres (contracted) in 2020-21 from 38 crore litres in 2013-14. Similarly, ethanol blending percentage too is expected to jump to 8.50% in 2020-21 from a meagre 1.53% in 2013-14. Due to demand growth, the ethanol distillation capacity too has doubled to 427 crore litre annually from 215 crore litres; while number of distilleries has increased by 40% in 5 years to 231 in 2019-20 from 157 in 2014-15. Bio-diesel blending in the country started on a pilot basis in 2001. 

The Government approved the National Policy on Biofuels-2018 in June 2018.  The policy has the objective of reaching 20% ethanol-blending and 5% biodiesel-blending by the year 2030.  Among other things, the policy expands the scope of feedstock for ethanol production and has provided for incentives for production of advanced biofuels.

Some of the intiatives include

  • Launching of E-100 pilot projects in Pune city by Public Sector Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs) to enhance fuel choice and facilitate sale of E-100 fuel.
  • On International Environment Day (June 5 2021), it has been announced that the target of 20% ethanol blended petrol has been preponed to 2025, by five years.
  • In October 2020, the Government has increased the price of C-heavy molasses-based ethanol to Rs. 45.69 from Rs. 43.75 to give a boost to EBP Programme.  Price of B-heavy molasses-based ethanol has been raised to Rs 57.61 / litre and sugarcane juice-based ethanol has been fixed at Rs. 62.65 / litre. The revised prices will be applicable during the ethanol supply year from December 1, 2020 to November 30, 2021. The Government has reduced GST on ethanol for blending in fuel from 18% to 5%.

Source : PIB



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